Ford The following photo is courtesy of Ford
The Focus, Ford’s alternatingly great and terrible compact, was never embraced by the American public. That’s why we were unable to reclaim it in 2013. Europeans have a higher opinion of the Focus than in the U.S. At the very least, that’s what I assumed, because reports that surfaced on Wednesday suggest that the Focus’s time in that market may be coming to an end as well.
Here’s what’s going on: Ford has chosen its Valencia plant to lead the European production of electric vehicles. Additionally, Ford Europe announced plans to build a new facility in Cologne, where the company is already headquartered, beginning in 2017.
Fortunately, Ford already has a facility here, in Saarlouis, where all of Europe’s Focus production takes place. In the meantime, Ford’s European PR director Michael Baumann says the Saarlouis plant’s long-term future is still uncertain, even though the Focus will continue to be built there through 2025. According to the Auto News:
Focus production will not be replaced at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, vehicle assembly plant in 2025. Instead, Ford of Europe Chairman Stuart Rowley said the company would look for “alternative opportunities” for the factory, including selling it to another automaker. Rowley, on the other hand, did not go so far as to say that the facility would be shut down. In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Rowley stated, “We are looking for other alternative opportunities for vehicle production at Saarlouis, including other manufacturers. “We don’t have an additional model for Saarlouis in our planning cycle.”
As a result, Saarlouis may not be shut down, but it may also be sold to a different company. In the event that the Saarlouis contract is extended, Ford has no idea what other model will join or replace the Focus in a few years.
All of Focus’s European production will either have to move or end by 2025, whichever comes first. A number of reports today claim that the Focus is effectively dead, though this seems premature when viewed in context.
That doesn’t mean that the Focus can’t go away at any time. Even in Europe, crossovers are displacing family sedans and wagons. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sell small passenger cars in Europe because of the combination of already low margins and tightening EU emissions regulations. Look no further than what Ford Europe’s former top brass told Automotive News three years ago as proof:.
In a recent interview with Automotive News Europe, Ford of Europe Chairman Steve Armstrong said, “Ironically the smaller vehicles are the toughest to reduce CO2 in. “The tighter the margin, the more difficult it is to meet emissions targets for smaller vehicles.” Maxime Picat, the head of Europe for PSA, agreed. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for carmakers to profit from minicars because of all of the technology we have to include in our vehicles for safety and emissions. “
It’s hard to imagine the situation has gotten any better for the Focus and its ilk since that was expressed before the global supply chain calamity and pandemic. As a result, Ford will shift its focus to electric vehicles, just like its competitors.
There are also Focuses manufactured in China and Taiwan, thanks to Ford’s collaborations with local manufacturers. Is there a brighter future for small cars in China? It’s possible, but it’s also possible that the Focus leaves the West and lives on in China. Owning a Fiesta ST tells me to get one while they’re cheap.